emergency shelter Program

For over 35 years DESC has prioritized services to marginalized and chronically homeless people by operating the lowest-barrier shelters in the region. Our Emergency Shelter Program is a vital survival resource for thousands of people experiencing homelessness who might otherwise have nowhere else to go. In addition to providing safe, secure shelter, hot meals, and day-time safe haven from the streets, the shelter is a focal point for DESC's outreach efforts, and helps people access a wide range of programs (both at DESC and elsewhere) to help them stabilize their lives and get permanent housing.

The Emergency Shelter Program serves more than 4,000 men and women each year. The people using our shelter are among the poorest and most vulnerable members of our community. Most are coping with one or more major disabilities. Among these, mental illness, substance-use disorders, physical or developmental disabilities are the most common. Many people have been chronically homeless, and are unable to acquire or maintain housing without substantial support.

Each night the shelter provides a place to sleep and a hot meal for up to 383 people across four locations:

  • shelter for 220 men and women in The Morrison (including an intensively-staffed, 20-bed Crisis Respite Program) located at 517 Third Avenue.;
  • shelter for 100 men at Queen Anne Shelter (QAS) located at 157 Roy Street. For more information about DESC's Queen Anne Shelter, click here.
  • shelter for 38 men in DESC's Connections located at 505 Third Avenue (shelter was formerly sited at Sacred Heart Church in lower Queen Anne until it moved to Connections on April 18, 2014); and
  • a 25 bed shelter for homeless women living with mental illness located in one of DESC’s supportive housing projects, Kerner-Scott House at 510 Minor Avenue North.

On a typical night, our emergency shelter are full to capacity. Our Main Shelter at The Morrison provides a nightly hot meal, brought in by FareStart, to clients staying in the shelter, and the Queen Anne Shelter provides a light dinner and breakfast to clients staying there. During the day, the main shelter is a drop-in center where people can seek refuge from the streets and the weather, and access a wide variety of services, including information and referral, hygiene facilities, mail and phone services and emergency clothing, and the opportunity to meet with staff to receive information and referral. In emergencies, residents of The Union Hotel and The Lyon Building have allowed their community rooms to be used for extra shelter.

The main shelter also offers on-site medical care, mental health counseling and chemical dependency treatment. Three DESC mental health outreach case managers, three Information and Referral case managers and a chemical dependency counselor are sited in the shelter, as well as a registered nurse from Health Care for the Homeless. An ARNP is also on site two (2) days a week to provide primary care services and follow-up for treatment clients have received elsewhere. Also, in coordination with University of Washington Family Medicine, the Community Health Advancement Program operates a bi-weekly dermatology clinic. The health care clients receive in the shelter goes a long way toward preventing or postponing emergency room visits that are so costly to the community.

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